Courthouse celebrates centennial |

Courthouse celebrates centennial

A lone cowboy rides down Eighth Street not long after the new Douglas County Courthouse is completed.
Douglas County Historical Society |

Today marks 100 years since the Douglas County seat moved from Genoa to Minden.

“A fine new $25,000 court house has been completed at Minden and awaits the arrival of the county officers and records,” Record-Courier owner Bert Selkirk wrote on Dec. 31, 1915. “Genoa has been a fated town from its earliest inception and it is not without pangs of sorrow and regret that her residents will witness the removal of the seat of government on tomorrow morning to be henceforth located at Minden.”

Genoa was not just Nevada’s birthplace, but its first seat of government. It was the first seat for Carson County, Utah, in 1854. In 1859, it was the site of the first meetings to seek statehood and of the first territorial legislature.

“However, the shifting population centered on Carson City as the proper place for the capital, and an Act of Congress on March 2, 1861, organized the territory of Nevada,” with Carson City as its capital.

Selkirk recognized the irony that the Carson River bridge, once criticized as a boondoggle to benefit a few farmers, would be used to bring county files to Minden.

“Now it comes to pass that the records of this county are taken across the same bridge to the new county seat town,” he wrote. “In her time, Genoa has had two court houses and one ‘capital.’”

The new Douglas County High School opened on Jan. 3, 1916.

As one of their first acts in their new location, county commissioners on Jan. 6 revoked the liquor license for the Hotel Douglas, after receiving a petition from 140 Gardnerville residents declaring the brothel, which was located near the new high school, to be an evil influence.

“The trail leading to the said building passes within a short distance of the said high school and the travelers, to and fro, to the said house of prostitution are constantly within the view of the students,” according to the petition published in the Jan. 14, 1916, edition of The R-C.

Other actions included awarding the county print contract to Selkirk and appointing a committee to determine what new furniture the new courthouse would require.

The first session of Douglas County District Court was held in the county clerk’s office because the courtroom was neither done nor furnished.

Over the past year, workers have been sprucing up the old courthouse, painting the rails and washing the bricks.

The carpet in the entryway and front hall has been removed, revealing intricate hexagonal tile work.

Photos of the historic courthouse have been set up along the front hallway.

Moving the county seat and bonds to build the courthouse in Minden and Douglas County High School in Gardnerville were approved by the 1915 Nevada Legislature as the result of a petition to build both the courthouse and the high school in Minden.

One of the key arguments against the bill was that the courthouse in Genoa had just been rebuilt after the fire of 1910.

Residents packed the statehouse to oppose the measure that might have been stopped in the Assembly had they not come to the compromise sending the high school for Gardnerville.

The courthouse added its south wing in 1964.